the public poet

he’s been assigned a billboard
that stands as high as the price of fuel
displayed at the petrol stop
just down the road

on a corner not far from the main drag
at a place where the traffic has to slow
he’s posting a new poem

one letter at a time
working above his head
with suction and pole
this is writing poetry the laborious way
but he was never one for pen
or paper

it takes a long while
an age
so he keeps them short
while his muscles burn
from the creative ache
of chasing an elusive muse

with his goggles steamed
so much of the time
at least the helmet ensures
he writes in occupational health
and safety
for any misjudgment
of a letter or a word
could bring the whole verse down

occasionally a motorist
toots from a car
or an educated passer-by
might comment
about a stray apostrophe
a comma

until he wonders
does anybody really read the work
try to see to the heart
of what he’s dragged out of himself
or do they focus
only on the shape
and argue about the form

but it doesn’t really matter
he’s their poet
this is all he can do

© Frank Prem, 2008

This poem was published in the Fish Poetry Prize Anthology (Ireland) in 2010.


6 thoughts on “the public poet

  1. Pingback: “The Salty Breeze Of The Unknown” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  2. There’s almost nothing so naked and vulnerable as a poet. I can’t imagine having poems posted on billboards–though I wouldn’t mind seeing them every now and then. Better than crass ads with no rhyme or reason except money.

    Liked by 1 person

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